Chocolate Panna Cotta

We recently dined at Boncconcino, a lovely and quaint Italian eatery in the North Beach district of San Francisco a few weeks ago. The meal homemade pasta dishes were delicious, but when the chef/owner brought out our dessert plate, we pretty much devoured it. It had a beautiful assortment of tiramisu, house-made chocolate cake, and panna cotta so creamy and divine that we could have eaten two more servings of it! It got us thinking about making our own panna cotta, but we decided it would have to be a dark chocolate version and here it is!

Panna cotta, which literally translates into “cooked cream”, is actually fairly easy to make! It’s sort of like a combination of pudding and pots de creme (one of my very favorite desserts) only much lighter and more delicate. You can make the panna cottas at least a couple of days ahead of time, and store them (covered with plastic wrap) until you’re ready to serve them.

Panna cotta is really just a simple mixture of milk, cream, gelatin, vanilla and sugar. We add dark chocolate to make this delicious version. Once you’ve dissolved the gelatin into the milk, added the cream and heated to scalding, stir the chopped chocolate into the cream mixture and whisk until the chocolate is melted. Then you pour the mixture into individual ramekins and chill until firm.

The trickiest part of the whole process is getting the panna cotta out of the ramekins. To do this, you carefully place each ramekin into a bowl of hot water for about 1 one minute. Then loosen the edges with a knife and invert onto a plate to allow the panna cotta to slip out. If all of this seems like a giant hassle and is too much for you, then simply serve the panna cotta in the ramekin and dress it up with a dollop of whipped cream and chocolate shavings. This is the easy way out and the dessert is still just as delicious!

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Chocolate Panna Cotta

Rich and creamy dark chocolate panna cotta, served with whipped cream and dark chocolate sprinkles.
Servings 8 Servings
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Chill Time 4 hours


  • 8 8 oz. ramekins


  • 1 1/2 cups half and half
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin (we use Knox Gelatin)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 oz. dark chocolate, chopped (we use 60% cacao chocolate)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy cream, whipped (for garnish)
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate shavings (for garnish)


  • Spray eight 8-oz. ramekins with cooking spray. Set aside.
  • Pour half and half into a medium sauce pan. Sprinkle gelatin over milk and allow to sit for about 5 minutes to soften gelatin. Whisk together over medium-low heat until gelatin dissolves. Do not allow the mixture to boil.
  • Add cream and sugar to the gelatin mixture and cook over medium heat, whisking until the sugar is dissolved. The mixture will be scalding, but not boiling. Remove from heat.
  • Add chopped chocolate to warm cream mixture and whisk until chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Stir in vanilla.
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  • Transfer mixture to a bowl with a pouring spout or a glass measuring cup, and evenly distribute the chocolate mixture among the eight prepared ramekins. Place ramekins into a large rectangular dish in order to keep them flat and for easier moving into and out of the refrigerator.
  • Allow the panna cotta to set up for at least 4 hours, or overnight until firm. If you plan to refrigerate them overnight, be sure to cover each ramekin with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the panna cotta.
  • When ready to serve, place each ramekin into a bowl of hot water for about 1 minutes to loosen the pudding from the ramekin. Take care not to get any water into the panna cotta.
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  • Remove the ramekin from the water and dry off the bottom with a paper towel. Then, invert the serving plate over the top of the ramekin and invert, shaking a little bit to loosen the panna cotta from the ramekin. You may also have to run a knife around the edges. Lift the ramekin off the panna cotta and you should have a beautiful round dessert waiting to be garnished.
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  • Garnish each panna cotta with a dollop of whipped cream and a spoonful of chocolate shavings.
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Course: Dessert
Keyword: chocolate desserts, chocolate Italian desserts, chocolate pudding, dark chocolate, dark chocolate desserts, dark chocolate panna cotta

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